10.21.2014

A Few Things...

I just love this picture posted to UNC's instagram.


Beyond Work/Life Balance - Living the Life You Want.  I think this post speaks to my thoughts about the word "balance".  There is no such thing.  There's no right amount of time you're supposed to spend at home versus at work.  No set time guidelines on playing with your kids or achieving a personal goal.  I don't want to think about it that way any more.  I just spent two years at home, and it was wonderful and great for us as a family.  I'm back at work, and even though I'm spending less time with my boys, I believe it's good for us as a family too.  And I'm working to make sure that the time I do spend with my boys is quality time, that they still know that I will always be there.

Bill Murray is doing a Christmas special.  This news just made me smile.

I've always been a little conflicted about GMOs.  I mean, since the beginning of farming, humans have cross-bred species and come up with ways of making crops stronger.  I remember learning about the guy who won a Nobel Prize for coming up with a new species of wheat - it was shorter, so they could grow more of it in a smaller space and therefore feed more people.  Brilliant!  So when all the uproar began about GMOs, I didn't understand at first. I get it now. I found this report to be especially interestingBill Nye the Science Guy summed it up very reasonably in this short video.

25 Feminist Lessons for My Sons.  Yes, yes, yes. I work so hard at this. I know that I am not the only influences in my boys' lives, but I do want to stay the loudest for as long as possible. At least until some of these lessons are firmly ingrained in who they are. They are already influenced by so much at school, and I have to push back. I remind them that girls can like legos and superheroes, and boys can wear purple. And I am certainly making sure they know how to do laundry, cook, and put the toilet seat down.

I saw Gone Girl last weekend.  It was just as good as the book - creepy, twisted, strangely captivating, and ultimately disappointing.  I do adore Ben Affleck, and this clip on The Ellen Show made me laugh.  Oh and speaking of Ben, did you see Jennifer Garner confirm her baby bump on Ellen?  I have had a huge girl crush on Jennifer since she was Sydney Bristow on Alias.  This just made it stronger. 

I loved hearing Ryan Adams' cover of Alice in Chains. Such a great song.

A Cure For Hyper Parenting.  Another good article reminding all us parents to calm down. Let's just do the best we can. It's all good.

10.20.2014

Taking Stock


Savoring:  Every moment of Fall.  Little boys jumping in leaf piles made my heart smile this weekend.
Eating:  Vegetarian Chili. I used this recipe, given to me by a friend. I made it just a tad too spicy - note for next time - but it was so good and perfect for a chilly Fall day.
Drinking:  Pumpkin ales.  It's that time of year.
Deciding:  It's the end of ice cream season.  Lest you think I deny myself, it's the start of pie and cookies season. 
Watching:  Nashville and Parenthood when Kevin's out of town (as he was last week).  Friday Night Lights together. We've both seen the entire series, but while we have Netflix...  There's nothing like a little dose of Tim Riggins.
Wanting:  Shoes that are stylish, look good with suits and work trousers, and comfortable enough to walk in all day.  SO hard to find that. 
Listening:  To my iTunes library on shuffle. Finding old favorites and bringing back memories.
Needing: To start planning for the holidays. Halloween is next week! Time really starts to fly after that.
Smelling:  The "Autumn Leaves" Yankee candle burning in the dining room.  And real autumn leaves outside. 
Feeling:  Optimistic. It's coming more naturally to me these days.
ReadingDefending Jacob. I'm about a third of the way through and totally sucked in.
Making: Lists. Trying to get back into a routine of managing my to-do lists and staying on top of everything.
Needing:  A cool-but-not-cold weather trench (or other lightweight) coat.  I've tried dozens at this point but haven't found the perfect one.  Pretty soon it's going to be cold enough for my winter coat, so whatever.  But I'll keep looking.
Wishing: My family lived closer. I've never mentioned that before here, right? ;-)
Missing: My sisters. See above.
WearingThis sweater.  I was worried it would look bulky or old on me, but I absolutely love it.
Enjoying:  Homemade granola.  Turns out I can still find the time to make it happen.

10.17.2014

Smelling the Roses...

 
 
Time is a funny thing.  The days seem to rush by in a hurried mess of exercising, cleaning, working, playing, cooking, parenting, doing...and then I stop to take a look around and realize a whole month went by!  On the other hand, it already feels like I've been back at work for a lot longer.  I am still meeting people and learning my new environment, but the work part came back very quickly and easily.  I am confident I made the right decision, so hurray for that. 
 
Things are going well, but I do recognize the need to stop and take a look around more often.  This week, I decided to take more scenic back roads to work for no other reason than to admire the beauty of historic New England towns in Autumn.  It's almost too difficult, because I want to stop and walk around Walden Pond and admire the foliage, but the drive alone is spectacular.  I've also left the music off at times, appreciating the silence.  I am reminded of the daily meditations that I used to enjoy at the end of my work days, after the kids went to bed.  I haven't done that since I stopped working, but I didn't miss it.  I was finding many moments of peace throughout the day.  Now I think I'll have to go back to being a little more purposeful about making time for it.  Life is too short not to appreciate and savor every day. 
 
We are all settled into the school and work routine.  Nathan read his first entire book to me last night, and I am still smiling as a result.  Aaron is learning about butterflies and knows more U.S. state facts than I do.  School is fun, and it is a joy to be able to go through it again with my children.  Aaron also started reading Harry Potter, and I must admit I am excited to experience the series again. 
 
The boys have been working on their lists for Santa - yes, already, I think they started them in August - and we've been discussing plans for Aaron's 8th birthday party.  He's thinking Lego, which is awesome and fun.  But up first - Halloween!  And a very full house for Thanksgiving!  That most wonderful and busy time of year is upon us, and I am so looking forward to it all.  It's time to start planning...
 
We are in the parenting sweet spot.  At 5 and almost 8, my boys are firmly out of the baby/toddler years.  They eat well, they sleep well, they are independent in so many ways.  But they are several years away from the pre-teen/teen years that can come with confusion and angst and rebellion and emotional distance.  They still snuggle, and they run to me when they get hurt.  They hold my hand.  They like to help out around the house.  They say "I love you" without reservation and not only in response.  They ask for permission (most of the time).  They want and expect to spend time together as a family.  Hopefully most of these things will continue through the teenage years, but for now, I'm choosing to soak them all in.  Every sweet moment with my boys. 
 
This weekend, we plan to go pick out our pumpkins and start raking the leaves.  And as I watch my boys run and jump in the resulting pile, I'm going to make sure I stop what I'm doing and appreciate that moment. 
 

 

10.15.2014

The Best Part of My Day

Fall in New England
 
I'm enjoying work, I'm meeting people, I'm going out to lunch, I'm getting up early (like still pitch black early) to exercise, I'm still mostly managing to get my mug of ice cream and dose of Jon Stewart at the end of the day.  But the best part of my day is dinnertime. 
 
I can't believe I just wrote that. 


It was just a few short years ago that I spent the 5 o'clock hour balancing a baby on my hip while trying to prepare food for a toddler who was most likely going to eat two bites, grimace, and declare himself "all done". I spent years making dinners when it seemed like more of it ended up on the floor than in their bellies. But I kept at it. I did the best I could to make mostly homemade meals, with a few frozen fish sticks and some pizza thrown in. The important thing was that we sat down together every night, even if it took an hour to cook dinner and four minutes to eat.  And now...

I have boys who like to help make dinner.  They actually fight over who gets to set the table.  They are still young and are sometimes picky in the ways that kids are, but in general they eat well.  They understand that they have to eat vegetables with every dinner.  They may whine a bit when it's not one of their favorites, but they mostly eat them anyway.  Most importantly, they know that dinner is a time for us to sit down together. 

I had tried playing High-Low ("The high of my day was..., The low part of my day was...") a couple years ago, but it didn't stick.  I think the boys were too young and simply couldn't sit still long enough at that point.  When we visited my friend Sara in Amsterdam, she and her family play it and asked us to participate.  Since then, it has become a required part of our dinnertime conversation. And it's wonderful. (Sara - Thank P for me!) My little guy, who doesn't share information unless specifically asked, has shared some important feelings and thoughts about his new school and new friends. It serves as a conversation starter, and we take it from there.

Now that I'm back at work, dinnertime has become even more important, because it's a time for me to connect with my boys. So when it's my turn for High-Low, I always start with "My High is right now..."

10.03.2014

Delta Spirit - Hold My End Up

 
This week's music pick is Delta Spirit.  I am growing to love this band more and more with each album, and after watching some of their videos, I am convinced of what I've heard about them (here and elsewhere) - they're even better live.  Hopefully I'll get the chance to see them in person one day.  In the meantime, I'll keep listening...
 
 

10.02.2014

A Few Things...



Yep, that's my mantra at the moment.  I'm getting shit done.  I feel productive and fulfilled.  I do question our ability to keep it up, but one day at a time...  In the meantime, here are a few things that have hit my reader lately...

How would you describe yourself in five words?  I love this.  My list just a year (or even a month!) ago might've looked different.  I've been thinking about what my five words might be, and it's harder than it sounds.  Perhaps:  mom, yogi, planner, optimist, juggler.  (You all understand the type of juggling I am talking about.)  What would be on your list? 

Jeff Tweedy on why the album still matters.  I feel the same way.  I know most people don't buy albums.  Honestly, most of my friends don't even buy music at all.  But it still matters to me.

Why I Want My Sons to See Me Naked.  This perfectly captures my thoughts on the subject.  I'm starting to enjoy more privacy in the bathroom, but Nathan still walks in unannounced on occasion, and neither of them flinch if I'm getting dressed in front of them.  I'm happy that I'm able to model self-confidence and a healthy body image to my boys.

The only way I will ever cook broccoli again.  A post that provides me with a tip that gets Aaron to stop whining about broccoli?  Yep, that's worthy of sharing.

And another one to love from Jenny.  This reminds me - it's almost time to start thinking about Aaron's birthday.  The end of the year festivities require a bit more advance planning.  I already love his initial ideas, though, so I think we'll be able to get it done.

Being a Stay-At-Home Parent is a Luxury...For Your Spouse.  I love this.  I still remember the day, last summer, that Kevin made a comment about how we seemed to be having a lot of really fun weekends.  It took him a while, but he realized how nice it was not to have errands and chores filling up our weekends.  I was free to keep up the house during the week, so our weekends became open for fun family quality time.  It was definitely a luxury.  One that I will miss, no doubt.  But I hope that perspective stays with us as we attempt to balance everything going forward.

9.30.2014

A Good Day...

picture taken by my husband - Boston is a pretty little city
 

Okay, I think we're all starting to settle into this new routine.  I was overwhelmed by the stress of getting a sitter for the boys for after school, and that really prevented me from fully embracing everything else.  Long story short, I hired a wonderful young woman this weekend - the boys love her already, and she has enabled me to relax.  I can hear my sister now, saying "See?  I told you things would work out the way they're supposed to."  She's absolutely right, but damn it sure can be stressful along the way.  Anyway...
 
I had a good day yesterday.  I woke up early and got a workout in before putting on my favorite dress and leaving for work.  My new client is in a suburb, so I don't have to drive all the way into the city.  No train ride, but a relatively easy commute that allows me to turn the music up and sing nice and loud.  My client partner is great, and everybody I've met is very nice and easy to work with.  I got a decent amount of work done.  I went out to lunch with the new person on my team.  I left early and went home to receive the best hugs ever from the cutest boys ever.  Aaron told me he loves piano again and practiced his new song for me.  Nathan gave me an extra hug just because he wasn't sure I got one in the morning.  I made a homemade but very easy, one-pot dinner that the boys ate and enjoyed.  I ended the day with a mug of ice cream and Jon Stewart.  Oh, and did I mention that it was a warm and gorgeous day? 
 
They won't all be that easy, but they won't all be hard either.  It's a good reminder to have. 


9.24.2014

Recently Read

  
The Invention of Wings, by Sue Monk Kidd.  I am a sucker for historical fiction.  These books have the story to draw you in and provide emotional resonance, and they also have a basis in real history.  They give us an insight into a different place and time.  In this case, the setting is the first half of the 19th century in Charleston, South Carolina.  The time of slavery.  The story is beautifully told, and I was drawn into the characters immediately.  Although I love a happy ending, it felt a little unrealistic to me, but that's one of my few complaints about the book.  I like that the author distinguished fact from fiction at the end, which I always find fascinating.  Highly recommend.
 
Rage Against the Dying, by Becky Masterman.  This is an okay book.  It's a decent one to borrow from the library or a friend.  It kept me engaged, and I enjoyed myself along the way, but it did feel a little too much like an Ashley Judd thriller that's shown too much on TV.  The main character is a 59-year-old female, which is sort of refreshing, but she doesn't really feel like a typical 59-year-old.  And by the time I got to the end, I realized I didn't really care who did it.  I wanted to see how everything wrapped up in the same way that I want to see Ashley Judd saved at the end of the movie. 
 
The Painter, by Peter Heller.  I loved The Dog Stars, so I had high hopes for this one.  It is good, and I do love Heller's writing style.  I could get drawn in by the language alone.  It's a pretty dark and heavy book, though, and it's not a frame of mind I'd want to stay in for too long.  It's so well-written, and the main character is a fascinating one who is extremely thought-provoking.  There's a lot of talk of art (which I enjoy) and fishing (which I can appreciate but only to a certain extent).  I recommend it, but read The Dog Stars first. 

9.23.2014

Weekend Recap and Goals


The structure of our weekends is changing along with everything else.  Since I am no longer running errands and cleaning and grocery shopping during the week, some of these jobs must necessarily get done on the weekends.  I will remain focused, however, on making sure we fit in fun and quality family time as well. 

This weekend's highlights included a visit to the farmer's market, along with some free painting in the park. It was a gorgeous weekend, with typical September blue skies.  The weather also called for apple-picking.  We hit an orchard and loaded a couple bags.  And when you have a lot of apples, you must make pie.  So I did.  The mornings are getting chillier, and the dark is closing in earlier; and we all know what that means.  We have to savor every little bit of Fall before the Winter sets in. 

As I get back into the swing of things, I'm also going to go back to setting some goals at the beginning of the week.  I'm still figuring out how best to manage work and home together, and having some overall goals is a good thing. 

Goals for this week:
1.  Hire a new sitter.  (Don't ask - very stressed.) 
2.  Research apps for maintaining grocery lists to determine if it'd be worth getting one.  Maybe I should eliminate some of the paper from my life/kitchen counter?  Do any of you use one you like?
3.  Get up early to exercise two more times this week.  (I did today!  Go me!)
4.  Purchase some more work clothes.  Kevin actually asked me to add this one, after watching me sift through my clothes in the closet and sigh, struggling to find an outfit.  I seem to have clothes, but very few outfits.
5.  Plan a date to get together with friends.  Social planning is one of those things that will fall away easily if I don't make it a priority. 

9.19.2014

A Few Things...

source unknown

I just love the above picture.  That is exactly what I want to do right now.  Put on my cape and mask and sit down with a glass of wine.  Like the badass I am.

I survived the first week back at work.  I am more exhausted than I've been in a long time, and my head is spinning.  But we all made it.  Similar to my first week at home, I realize that I need to relearn how to do everything again.  Getting used to a new routine can be daunting.  I am also so conscious of the fact that I do not want to fall back into the same habits and work routines that I had before.  I am focused on finding the right balance.  (We talk so much about balance - I almost wish there was a different way of talking about it, but I think it's the one everyone understands.)  Much more to come as I settle into our new phase.

This weekend, I plan to sleep late, get some exercise, play with my boys, eat some apples, bake something pumpkiny, watch a movie, and mentally prepare myself for what is sure to be an exhilaratingly busy second week of work.

I've had a few things bookmarked along the way...

The One Word Men Never See In Their Performance Reviews.  I've never had this word used to describe me, but I do know people who have received it in reviews.  It's interesting to think about how men and women are evaluated differently.

My cousin, Tiffany, created a fabulous new web site.  It contains her inspiring blog but also so much more!  Check it out!

Another Weekly Menu Idea.  I'm getting used to my new dinner planning routine, too.  Planning on Saturday, or Sunday morning, shopping on Sunday (along with everyone else - I forgot how crowded the grocery store is on Sundays!).  I brought my headphones with me last week and got it done quickly, so it wasn't too bad.

I want my local pizza place to start using these boxes.  Genius!

I'm digging this online yoga challenge.  So far, most of the sequences have been rather short, so they're great for before or after another exercise session, or good for doubling up.  It's totally free, so if you have any interest, sign up and you'll get them in your inbox!

I then went on to sign up for the myYogaPro membership.  I know there's plenty of free stuff on youtube, but these are great classes, and it's so well-organized.  I think it'll motivate me to do more yoga.

Letters from husband to wife.  I just love this.  A sense of humor is the #1 thing that will keep a relationship thriving.

I loved seeing his old post on Cup of Jo.  And this one that Design Mom linked to today.  It brought me right back to Amsterdam, and I love the memories I have of such a cool city and good friends.  I totally miss the bikes!  I found myself in an REI last week, gazing longingly at the bikes.  Someday, one of them will be mine.

Steve Jobs was a low-tech parent.  Interesting.  This has been on my mind quite a bit lately.  I think we're doing okay, but I feel my son trying to push his limits.  It makes me want to tighten up even more.

9.16.2014

My First Day...


I am back at work.  I was home for two years and yet it feels like it happened so quickly.  Time is weird.  Anyway, yesterday I woke up early, did a quick workout, showered and got dressed up, and took the train into the city.  I realized I hadn't taken the train for work since before the kids were born, and it felt like a luxury.  A half-hour of quiet thought.  After a quick stop at Starbucks, I made it to the office, met about a hundred people, forgot most of their names (I wish I didn't suck so bad at that), and spent the day getting set up. 

It felt good. 

At the end of the day, I also found out where I will be assigned, and I'm happy with the opportunity.  It starts next week, and preparations have begun, so work will pick up speed quickly.  That's definitely the best thing for someone who's been out of practice for a while.  I need to jump in with both feet as quickly as possible!

On the homefront, my husband has taken over the morning duties, and I will cover the evenings.  He will have breakfast with the boys, make lunches, and drop them off at school.  I will handle dinner, baths, bedtime, and preparing for the next day.  It feels like a good balance for now (after 1 day - ha!), and I hope it lasts. 

The boys are handling it all in stride, although my heart did ache a bit when Aaron decided to rank all the caregivers in his life by how much time he spends with them.  He said, "teacher, sitter, dad, mom".  WHAT!?  So I helped him with the math and clarified that if I'm home before 5:30, it goes "teacher, MOM, sitter, dad".  If I'm home after 5:30 then the sitter beats me, so you better believe I'm going to make it my mission to be home before then every night. 

So that's my update.  I'm in a new phase, meeting new people and learning new things.  It's exciting, and I'm choosing to remain optimistic that we're all going to be able to balance everything.  Here goes nothing.

9.12.2014

Ryan Adams - My Wrecking Ball


 
I haven't posted any music in a while, have I?  Well, I'll have to get you all caught up on what I'm listening to.  I'll try to start posting a music pick every week again.  September always seems to have a bunch of good releases in it, and this year was no exception.  Let's start with Ryan Adams.  His videos can be a little painful, just because I really want to brush the hair out of his eyes, but the music is what matters, and it's good.  


John Vettese/WXPN

9.10.2014

Taking Stock - September 2014


Enjoying:  Our last Red Sox game of the season.  We went to the game on Sunday to watch our last-place team.  It was a gorgeous afternoon, and it's always fun to watch baseball.
Making:  Basil-Walnut Pesto, using up the rest of the basil from the garden.
Cooking:  A new batch of granola.  Trying to get stocked up before I start work and no longer have time for things like homemade granola.
Reading:  The Painter, by Peter Heller.  It's dark, but I'm digging it.
Hoping:  My first week of work goes well.
Wanting:  Some new work clothes.  I may do some shopping soon.
Watching:  House of Cards.  Kevin and I watched the entire first season on the flights to and from Europe.  We got home and signed up for the first free month of Netflix just so we can binge-watch season 2.
Playing:  Uno with my little guy, while Aaron is in his piano lessons.
Eating:  Ice cream every night.  As usual.
Wondering:  When I should declare it the end of "ice cream season" and put the spoon down.
Loving:  September weather.  Cool mornings and blue skies.  Hello, Fall.
Noticing:  How crabby I get when I'm stressed.  Trying really hard to keep it under control.
Drinking:  Water during the week, wine on weekends.
Knowing:  We live a charmed life.  There are times when Kevin and I stop to acknowledge this.
Feeling:  Grateful.  Hopeful.  Nervous.
Listening:  Mostly to Ryan Adams' new album.  Delta Spirit's latest is on right now.  They're both good but probably a little too sad-bastard for my current mood.  Anybody got a recommendation for something happy and bouncy that I might like?
Bookmarking:  A recipe for profiteroles.  I've always wanted to try making them, and I'm thinking our anniversary might be a good excuse.
Needing:  Rain boots.  I've needed them for years.  That's it - I'm ordering some today!
Waiting:  For the holiday-planning mood to hit me.  I think I'm too distracted by the start of work, but I know that it'll only be a few weeks before I start making lists.
Following:  The news, but most of it makes me so sad.  I understand why so many people just try to ignore it all.
Liking:  My last week at home.  With both boys in school full-time, the days are quiet and productive and relaxing.
Wishing:  I had more time to add some fun things to my to-do list.  But see above re: charmed life.  It's all good.

9.09.2014

Change Is Hard.


I'm no good at change.  Uncertainty makes me uneasy, and I get cranky when I'm uncomfortable.  I have always worked hard to maintain routines, keep to-do lists, prepare for things way in advance, and otherwise do everything I can to stay ahead of the game and avoid uncertainty as much as possible.  In some ways, this craving of stability is not a bad thing.  It motivates me to stay prepared and organized.  It also encourages me to make decisions rather quickly.  On the other hand, this fear of change can keep me in situations for longer than I should.   

All this to say...I've been cranky lately.  I'm in a period of uncertainty, and I'm uncomfortable.  I try to remind myself that we should all do hard things every day - that's how we grow and make necessary changes in our lives.  It's true, and I can say it and acknowledge it, but it doesn't make things easier.  

I start my new job on Monday, and things are changing.  The boys are in school - and loving it, thank goodness.  My husband is going to take over the morning duties and school drop-off.  We've had to arrange after-school care.  We've arranged a new piano teacher for Aaron, and Nathan starts soccer next week.  I will be starting a new job and a commute into the city.   I'm trying to move through the list of uncertainties and check them off as quickly as possible, but it all takes time.  I don't know yet where I will be working, and I am reminded of one difficult aspect of consulting - the not knowing where you will be staffed next.  I've just got to embrace that.  

It's all good.  I know we're on the right path.  I'm just very much looking forward to settling down into our new routine.  Fall feels like the right time to be embarking on a new challenge.  It has always felt like the beginning of the new year to me.  The crisp fall weather has finally arrived here in New England, and I continue to take deep breaths and know that with every day and every decision, we're one step closer to achieving that new normal.  


9.05.2014

House Update - Family Room


It's been a while since I've posted a house update.  After finishing the big renovation two years ago (has it been that long?), we've slowly made changes and additions to the interior.  I thought it was time to provide another update on the family room.  Since last posting about it, we added a sectional couch, new pillows, coffee table, and a ficus tree.

I'm so excited about it!  I love this room now.  The couch is big enough for all of us to relax, the coffee table has a soft top that's great to rest my feet on, I love the bright colors we added with the pillows and mirror...  It came together just as we wanted, and it makes me happy to see it every day.  Yay!


built-in bookshelves between the family room and kitchen

9.04.2014

Highs and Lows...


It has been so long since I've posted here.  I've thought about it, but I somehow couldn't get the words out.  We are in a time of transition, and that has made it difficult for me to formulate my thoughts in any coherent way.  We came home from our amazing vacation - the boys keep asking me when we are going to go back to Amsterdam, amazingly not remembering (or caring about) the weather but only that we had a ton of fun.  We spent a few days at home, doing laundry and trying to organize ourselves, and then the new school year began.  

I have found myself oscillating wildly between good moods and bad.  I am not one who can get over moods easily.  I generally have to wait them out, reminding myself that this too shall pass.  I caught another cold - this time a bad one - on the flight home, and I am not a good sick person.  I mostly just want to lie on the couch and be left alone.  I managed one afternoon of this, but then I had to pick myself back up again.  Being a mom doesn't stop.

Then came the first day of school, and especially since it was Nathan's first day at the same school as Aaron, it was exciting and so much fun.  It was a great day, and thankfully both boys are happy to go to school every day.  

We managed one last trip of the summer - a weekend down in New York, visiting our good friends.  My moods followed me there, but we always have a great time with them, and this was no exception. This week, I've been focused on tackling my to-do list, getting as much done as possible before my return to work, which is rapidly approaching.  I've done the shopping, organized the pantry, taken one car in, the other goes in tomorrow, I've cleaned and organized and updated the calendar...  And behind all this is the underlying stress of not yet having a sitter lined up to watch the boys after school once my job begins.  

I haven't had time or energy to even think about the job.  My first day is a week from Monday, and I don't feel ready.  I hope I will be when the time comes, though.  

As I drink another much-needed sip of wine, I realize that I'm probably still not expressing my thoughts in any coherent way.  Rather I'm just giving you the run-down of what's been going on.  That's okay too, I suppose.

Painting by Cy Twombly

8.25.2014

Rainy Days in Amsterdam


Our visit to Amsterdam really could've sucked.  We were there for five days, and it rained on every single one.  I was also still getting over a cold, and my suitcase got lost on the way!  I spent the first three days without all my clothes, toiletries, glasses/contacts, our raincoats...  Wow, when I write all that down, I am amazed that we didn't have a crappy time.  In fact, our trip was so much fun!  The kids never complained about the rain, and we certainly didn't let it deter us from getting out and doing everything we wanted to do.  

We stayed with my fabulous friend Sara and her family.  It is always so much more fun to get to know a new city from someone who lives there, and I really did fall in love with Amsterdam.  It's such a cool city.  Shortly after we arrived, we decided to go out to dinner, so we all hopped on bikes and headed out!  I honestly can't remember the last time I rode a bike, and it felt so good!  They live close to everything, so we were always an easy bike ride away from our destination.  That was especially important when we had to head home to dry off!  

Activities included playgrounds every day, a visit to the Van Gogh Museum, a Lego exhibition, a canal boat tour, and lots of playing soccer and eating out.  The Van Gogh Museum was a definite highlight - we did a scavenger hunt with the kids that was not only fun, but also enabled us to spend enough time in the museum to really appreciate it.  Very cool!  We also got a babysitter and managed an adults-only night out, so we got to see the city at night and enjoy amazing Indonesian food and adult conversation.  

I really loved our time in Amsterdam, and I think the rain and the lost bag only made it more memorable.  Now we just need to figure out when we can go back!


Me and my wonderful friend Sara, whose clothes thankfully fit me

We all had fun on bikes!


After a certain amount of time outside in the rain, you just have to let go of all fashion sense and go with practicality.  Kevin called me his "little sanitation worker" in this get-up, but it kept me dry!

We had to stop for the obligatory windmill shot.

This picture makes me so happy.  A rain-free and kid-free night out in Amsterdam!

8.23.2014

A Beautiful Time in Spain

Gorgeous beaches

The view from our front door

Observations and reflections on a wonderful vacation in Catalonia, Spain:

Jet lag is tough, but the transition is easier when you embrace the typical Spanish schedule.  Late wake-up, lunch at 2, dinner at 9.

Traveling with kids is getting easier.  Hooray!  Having a pool is imperative, though.

The set-up at the place we stayed was absolutely perfect for our group.  We could linger a bit longer at lunch while the kids played in the pool.  We could enjoy a late dinner at the restaurant while the kids slept or watched a movie.  It was great.

The beaches were close by and gorgeous.  Green water, cliffs, and lots of rocks to collect.  The sandy beaches meant building sand volcanoes.

The food.  Oh my gosh the food.  Patatas bravas.  Mussels ("moos clues") every day.  Paella that takes hours to prepare but is so worth the wait.  Crisp rose.  Butifarra.  Fresh tomatoes from the garden.

My two-year-old nephews, moving and laughing and talking non-stop, in all three languages.  "Ding-dong!"  "Open close?"  "Agua"  "Piscina" ...

Although traveling with kids is absolutely getting easier, we still had five boys with us, including twin two-year-olds.  My sister and her husband had to leave the beaches early in order to get back for naps, and pool-time was fun but definitely not relaxing while the twins were in the mix.  The older boys were relatively easy during the day but proved difficult at times at night, when we were attempting our kid-free dinners down in the restaurant.  One of my favorite and also most exasperating memories of the trip was our visit to Paratellada.  It is a really beautiful town, and we had envisioned being able to sit and enjoy a mojito while the boys ran around the square.  Unfortunately, the boys disagreed with our plan and proceeded to run in every direction.  We did get the mojitos, but I'm not sure I remember drinking it and I'm positive none of us ever sat down.

So the trip was not without its challenges.  I found myself looking enviously at people lingering over long lunches at the beachside restaurants, reading newspapers and drinking their wine and leisurely enjoying the views.  This is my confession.  That said, it was a fabulous week of family vacation, with all that that entails.  And if you're going to have to deal with parenting, how nice to be able to do it in the gorgeous Spanish countryside.  I did relax, and I even finished a book!  I deliberately took time to take in my surroundings and be grateful for being there.  It was wonderful.

Lots of pool fun

Here's the whole group, with the pool to ourselves

Synchronized pool jumping

Lots of time spent wandering around medieval Spanish villages

I had to include this one of me and my handsome boy, relaxed and sun-kissed

A view of Sa Tuna from the cliffs

8.18.2014

Where I Am...


When you read this, I will be exploring Amsterdam with my family and friends.  Finally - a proper playdate with Sara and her adorable kids!  I'm thinking we will be bike riding, cruising the canal, touring playgrounds, and maybe catching some Van Gogh.  I'm so excited to visit a new city and to see friends we so rarely get to see.  

So hello from Amsterdam!  I'll be back next week with lots of pictures.

8.11.2014

Where I Am...


I'm in Spain right now!  I have no connectivity, so I am posting this ahead of time.  Just to let you know where I am.  Hopefully at this time I will be exploring a neat little Spanish town in Catalonia.  And in a couple hours I will be watching my boys play in the pool with their cousins, and then I will enjoy some wine as we decide what to do for dinner.  Making simple decisions.  Soaking up the sunshine, catching up with my sister, and being far, far away from our normal, everyday routines.  

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